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Maintenance: Prevention over cure

  • Published at 02:28 pm December 3rd, 2019

For any upstanding landlord, this is the opposite of the desired outcome

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – a sentiment that is echoed by millions. But in order to keep something in working order, continuous upkeep is absolutely essential – a fact that many landlords of today ignore. As a result, tenants often have to deal with broken or damaged items in the home – a state that could have been avoided with proper care. What further makes things problematic for tenants is the fact that, oftentimes, the repairs or replacements do not come immediately – depending on the nature of the landlord, it can take anywhere from a few days to even a few weeks for a solution to arrive. As such, tenants sometimes have to endure an uncomfortable situation for a long time, until the necessary fixes come – leading to frustration and dissatisfaction with the property and the landlord, not to mention develop a bad reputation overall.

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For any upstanding landlord, this is the opposite of the desired outcome. Even with the massive demand and shortage for quality housing, there are plenty of cases where an apartment does not receive interested tenants due to its “bad” reputation and the property stays un-rented long past its expected tenure. But going back to the prevailing mentality of landlords that until something completely breaks down, there is no reason to fix it – this kind of thought-process emerges due to unclear and undetermined liability clauses in terms of repairs and maintenance. Bangladesh lacks any law or regulation regarding such liabilities in the tenancy law. And even if there was one, actual enforcement of such regulations would probably be once in a blue moon – if the existing enforcement of tenancy laws is anything to go by. However, even without such regulations, some progressive landlords are opting to introduce repair liabilities into their rental agreements that clearly define who would be responsible for fixing various aspects if they break or malfunction in different situations – i.e. it is the responsibility of the landlord to repair a damaged wall.

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But such situations would not even need to arise if the landlord takes the initiative to maintain the various aspects of their property that need it before they break down. Anything and everything will eventually wear down after continuous usage for a long time. It is maintenance that prolongs the inevitable. Take the water reservoir of a building for example – It is one of the most important aspects of a building but requires care and clean up only twice a year or so. But ignoring that can result in water contamination, loss of structural integrity and be deleterious for the health of the residents. This is just one example, but disregarding regular maintenance of any of the aspects of a building can have an adverse effect and may even be catalysts for something much worse. Improper and irregular maintenance lies at the root of many of the accidents that we unfortunately see occur in buildings. Gas explosions, wall collapse, pipe bursts – they may all have been avoided by keeping up with their regular upkeep.

So if the question arises “Why should I, a landlord, run constant maintenance if it is not absolutely broken”, the answer is quite simple – to avoid any unexpected future precarious scenarios. The cost of such upkeep is also minimal when compared to the money a landlord would have to spend in order to replace any particular object. And this would also mitigate the distress of the tenants from having to worry about things breaking down.